Douglas and Georgia’s marriage of eleven years was on the rocks. Douglas had been concerned about her inattention at home due to her lengthy texting conversations with someone at work. When she left it unattended, he glanced through her cell phone. What he found shook his understanding of their relationship. Lengthy racy messages with a coworker left him feeling hurt, angry and betrayed.
In the following weeks, Georgia admitted an emotional affair and begged for forgiveness. Douglas stated that he had forgiven her, but occasionally withdrew into anger and hurt. Anytime she picked up her phone to text her sister or mother, Douglas asked to see it.
Georgia called for a marriage intensive, stating, “He hasn’t really forgiven me or he’d let this go.” She felt frustrated that even thought she ended the relationship and asked for forgiveness, he kept bringing it up.
Throughout the day long marriage intensive, we helped them discover the differences between forgiveness, trust and reconciliation and began the process of creating a new future together.
When Trust Is Betrayed
After a major trust-buster, both spouses have a hard road ahead of them. We have worked with many couples who have made the long journey on the road to recovery to a new levels of intimacy, passion and commitment their marriage had never experienced before.
Both the betrayer and the betrayed have specific actions that they must take to recover after a major trust break. One of the most important things couples must realize is that there are huge differences between forgiveness, trust and reconciliation.
Forgiveness Is About The Past
Forgiveness focuses on an injustice that we have experienced. It is about finding healing about a traumatic relationship event in our history together.
Trust Is About The Present
Different that forgiveness, trust is about what I am willing to make vulnerable to be hurt again in the present. It is about how I feel about my heart’s vulnerability to be hurt again. Trust is a moment-by-moment, present decision.
Reconciliation Is About The Future
Reconciliation is a decision one makes to begin to create a new future together.
Forgiveness Is Personal
Forgiveness is not dependent upon any one other than the betrayed. Forgiveness is the process of coming to a place of healing around the wound that happened to you. You decide to begin the process of forgiveness so that you can create room in your heart to feel peace and joy again.
What is interesting about forgiveness is that you can forgive someone without ever letting them know that you have forgiven them. You can forgive people whom you will never see again. And forgiveness is about you coming into a new place around the wounding event so that you can replace bitterness and resentment with peace and joy.
Trust Is Interactive
The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. The betrayed feels like they were a fool to have ever trusted the betrayer in the first place. However, they see the betrayer as the one who wounded them and the one who is at fault. They are afraid to trust again because if that trust is broken a second time, they will view themselves as the one who wounded them.
Trust takes two people to create. It takes the betrayed giving the betrayer room to show that they are trustworthy. It requires the betrayer or live with impeccable integrity to show that they are worth trusting. If the betrayed never gives the betrayer space to prove their trustworthiness, trust will never develop.
Trust is not all or nothing. It is not black or white. You may trust your physician with 100% of your health history, but 10% of your financial condition. You may trust your sibling with 75% of what you think about your parents but only 15% of what you think of them.
Trust begins to build as you begin to trust your spouse at some percentage. As they show their trustworthiness, with new and improved trustworthy behavior, trust will begin to build.
Reconciliation Is A Decision
Reconciliation is a conscious, intentional decision to move toward your spouse and begin creating a new future together. It is an individual decision. Reconciliation can be pursued unilaterally. You may choose to pursue reconciliation with all of your vigor, but eventually reconciliation takes both spouses to eventually work.
We have witnessed reconciliation take place after the decision to reconcile by only one spouse was made. They started doing everything that could to begin to create a new future for their marriage. Eventually, their spouse began to see that a new relationship was possible and began working toward reconciliation.
We have also witnessed only one spouse focused on reconciliation for over two years with no effort or willingness to reconcile made by their spouse. The marriage ended in divorce.
How They Affect Each Other
If you want reconciliation, you will eventually have to forgive your betraying spouse and trust them again. You can never forgive your betraying spouse, never trust them again and not reconcile the relationship. You can forgive your betraying spouse, never trust them again and never reconcile your marriage. You can forgive your betraying spouse, develop a trust level deep enough to have conversations about the children, and decide never to reconcile. You can begin to trust your spouse again, reconcile your relationship, never forgive them, and live with bitterness in your heart. But eventually your resentment and bitterness will cause your relationship to fail.
But reconciliation eventually involves both forgiveness and trust. The decision to move toward each other assists with development of forgiveness and trust. If the decision to reconcile is delayed by a “watch and see” approach, forgiveness and trust will take longer to develop.
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This article was written by Roy and Devra Wooten, authors of “The Secret to a Lifetime Love”. Learn more at www.LifeTogetherForever.com © Roy and Devra Wooten 2017. All Rights Reserved. You may replicate this article as long as it is provided free to recipients and includes appropriate attribution. Written permission for other use may be obtained at Secret@LifeTogetherForever.com.